What is our industry really about? When we talk about property, we’re not just talking about soulless buildings, we’re talking about the stages upon which life happens.
We’re talking about places where people prosper and fail, fall in love, make lifelong friends, invest, lose, work, are born and die. In short, we’re talking about property as the backdrop to real people’s lives: the ‘placemaking’ to people’s ‘lifemaking’.
And, just like people, every place has a distinctive history of events that have shaped it. A long line of stories and heritage that make it memorable, special and unique. For U+I, using property development to provide a meaningful and authentic connection between past and future is fundamental to how we approach our work so that we create places where people genuinely want to be, today and in the future. Lose a sense of the humanity and history of place and you lose a chance to do something truly remarkable through property regeneration.
That’s why we are tackling the theme of ‘Identity’ in this, the fourth issue of MATTER – because it is at the core of what we do as a business.
MATTER is not about U+I. It’s about the issues that we think about and care about – a way of looking at life from a different perspective.
We cannot hope to cover every aspect of this hugely complex topic but we have tried to look at some of the more interesting angles and unusual perspectives, from place to race to smell and the very meaning of home. Of particular interest to me is the pervasive influence of technology in reshaping notions of identity. We analyse how social media affects the very way that we think about ourselves. And we consider gender role-play in artificial intelligence – where the newest technology is imbued with ancient prejudice. In other words, AI may be less brave new world and more same old, same old - just dressed in new clothes.
Across this broad spectrum, certain distinct themes stand out and perhaps the strongest one for me is this: that our identity is shaped by a huge range of factors – where we live, how we look, when we were born, who we engage with and how we do it. Those influences can be beneficial or malign but they all affect the way we are.
That’s why it is so important for us, as makers of places, to use our influence wisely – to ensure that we look deeply into the identity of a place to create an authentic space for today and tomorrow.